2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 3 books toward her goal of 245 books.

Excerpts and Book Review: Speculate: A Collection of Microlit by Dominique Hecq and Eugen Bacon


by Eugen Bacon & Dominique Hecq


GENRE: Collection / Prose-Poetry / Speculative Fiction

BOOK PAGE:  https://meerkatpress.com/books/speculate/


From what began as a dialog between two adventurous writers curious about the shape-shifter called a prose poem comes a stunning collection that is a disruption of language—a provocation. Speculate is a hybrid of speculative poetry and flash fiction, thrumming in a pulse of jouissance and intensity that chases the impossible.

BUY LINKS: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter

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Friends are not important—like plagues, they come and go, even blood is not thicker. But fate is another matter. Some fool in autumn had a drink in the dark, sought a taste of heaven in a street named Bagh Nakh. Found it in the hands of a runaway who raised a hand and plunged a dagger that clung to the idiot’s heart.


You were born in autumn and so, naturally, hate spring. The scent of blackwood showering pollen. The air licked with gold where the buzzing of the bees deepens. The sudden opacity of it all. You run. Run away. Away from the visible and from the invisible. With the pollen clinging to your skin, the sun striking and the darkness beneath your feet settling, you are a living phobia. A fear of no consequence. Yet as eons pass in one beat of the heart, you hear the rustle under the trees. Taste the bite of death.

She steals at dawn

to a place of memory, a beloved place she can enter her stories. The way her fingers pad on the keyboard. The rush that sweeps through her body arrives her at an intersection where mind and fingertip are one. She needs practice sleeping in a little, her lover’s breath heartfelt on her earlobe. But she runs when she can, to a play-filled memory enriched with mannequins she can chase, surreal encounters on red rock bicycles, oh, how she soars.


She feels adrift, like an autumn moth flapping its dusty wings until it rests on your windowpane on the far side of the world. Says there is no rhyme nor reason nor even any explanation for being. Sky pied, almost as perfect as the horse she used to ride. As for turbulence, the sky is cloudless; the writing not exactly cloudy, but cloud-gathering. Now it’s raining streams of light on red rock bicycles.

I have a weird relationship with short fiction. I used to be die-hard against it, preferring the longest and most involved fiction possible for the immersive experience it offered. As I’ve gotten older, I’m finding the appeal of shorter pieces. Time is harder to come by. Life is immersive enough, thank you very much. And my attention span is not what it once was… I still occasionally struggle with short pieces when I don’t feel connected to the characters (character development is EVERYTHING to me), but I’ve learned that 150,000 words are not the only way an author connects character and reader.

Microlit, like flash fiction, is a newer format for me. As you can imagine, from my explanation above, it’s been an adjustment. If I find short stories occasionally too surface-level or brief in explanation, you can imagine how I find ultra-shorts… I do best when the collection is thematic or developmental, with similar characters and worlds populating all/the majority of the pieces. It gives me the depth I crave in the shorter bursts that allow for enhanced creativity in a multiplicity of directions.

This collection is designed to achieve that, although I must confess that I did not always see the connections that were alluded to… Bacon and Hecq may consider their back-and-forth a dialogue; I had a harder time viewing it as such. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it – I did, generally. But I don’t know that I found the connectivity (both in their call-and-response format OR in the book taken as a whole) that other readers have – or that the authors intended. This may be due to my own perceptual issues with such short pieces. Or with the spec fic nature of their writing. Or with my recent headspace which is, admittedly, a bit all over the place…

Regardless, I struggled with the themes throughout much of this, even while enjoying the lyricism of the language. The two authors have very different styles and voices. I enjoyed the interplay between them in that regard. Dissonance is interesting to me, and seeing how two different individuals perceive the same themes/topics is always fascinating to watch.

Thanks to the authors and the wonderful folks at Meerkat Press for providing me with an obligation-free review copy. It was an experiential book, and while I don’t always “get” them, I do enjoy the ride!

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